Oscar P. Austin

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This article is about the U.S. marine. For the American statistician and writer, see Oscar Phelps Austin.
Oscar Palmer Austin
Austin OP USMC.jpg  A light blue neck ribbon with a gold star shaped medallion hanging from it. The ribbon is similar in shape to a bowtie with 13 white stars in the center of the ribbon.
Oscar P. Austin, Medal of Honor recipient
Born (1949-01-15)January 15, 1949
Nacogdoches, Texas, U.S.
Died February 23, 1969(1969-02-23) (aged 20)
Vietnam
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1968-1969
Rank Private First Class
USMC-E2.svg
Unit 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Awards Medal of Honor ribbon.svg Medal of Honor
Purple Heart BAR.svg Purple Heart

Oscar Palmer Austin (January 15, 1949 – February 23, 1969) was a United States Marine who posthumously received his nation's highest military honor — the Medal of Honor — for heroism and sacrifice of his own life in Vietnam in February 1969.

Early life and education[edit]

Austin was born on January 15, 1949, in Nacogdoches, Texas. He attended Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona, and Phoenix Union High School.

Career[edit]

Austin joined the United States Marine Corps in Phoenix, Arizona April 22, 1968 and completed recruit training with the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California, in July 1968. He completed his individual combat training with Company T, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Training Regiment, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, in August 1968; and basic infantry training with Weapons Company, Basic Infantry Training Battalion, 2nd Infantry Training Regiment at Camp Pendleton, in September.

Promoted to private first class on October 1, 1968, he was transferred later that month to South Vietnam where he served as ammunitions man with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division. While participating in combat 6 ½ miles west of Da Nang on February 23, 1969, he was killed in action.

During the early morning hours on February 23, 1969, PFC Austin's observation post came under a fierce ground attack by a large North Vietnamese Army force using a heavy volume of hand grenades, satchel charges and small arms fire. Observing that one of his wounded companions had fallen unconscious in a position dangerously exposed to hostile fire, Austin unhesitatingly left the relative security of his fighting hole and, with complete disregard for his own safety, raced across the fire swept terrain to drag the Marine to safety. As he neared his companion, he observed an enemy grenade land nearby. Leaping between the grenade and the injured Marine, Austin took the full force of the explosion himself. Although he was badly injured, Austin turned to help his fallen companion and saw a North Vietnamese soldier aiming a weapon at the unconscious man. With full knowledge of the probable consequences, Austin threw himself between the injured Marine and the hostile soldier. In doing so, he was mortally wounded.

Awards and honors[edit]

Austin's medals include:

A light blue ribbon with five white five pointed stars 
Bronze star
Bronze star
Medal of Honor Purple Heart
National Defense Service Medal Vietnam Service Medal w/ 2 service stars Vietnam Campaign Medal

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to

PRIVATE FIRST CLASS OSCAR P. AUSTIN
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS

for service as set forth in the following CITATION:[3]

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an Assistant Machine Gunner with Company E, Second Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division in connection with operations against enemy forces in the Republic of Vietnam. During the early morning hours of February 23, 1969, Private First Class Austin's observation post was subjected to a fierce ground attack by a large North Vietnamese Army force supported by a heavy volume of hand grenades, satchel charges and small arms fire. Observing that one of his wounded companions had fallen unconscious in a position dangerously exposed to the hostile fire, Private First Class Austin unhesitatingly left the relative security of his fighting hole and, with complete disregard for his own safety, raced across the fire-swept terrain to assist the Marine to a covered location. As he neared the casualty, he observed an enemy grenade land nearby and, reacting instantly, leaped between the injured Marine and the lethal object, absorbing the effect of its detonation. As he ignored his painful injuries and turned to examine the wounded man, he saw a North Vietnamese Army soldier aiming a weapon at his unconscious companion. With full knowledge of the probable consequences and thinking only to protect the Marine, Private First Class Austin resolutely threw himself between the casualty and the hostile soldier and, in so doing, was mortally wounded. Private First Class Austin's indomitable courage, inspiring initiative and selfless devotion to duty upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

/S/RICHARD M. NIXON

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Oscar P. Austin". USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79), United States Navy. February 2, 1999. Archived from the original on 2007-10-09. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  2. ^ "Austin Hall". The Historical Marker Database. Retrieved 2007-10-20. 
  3. ^ "PFC Oscar P. Austin", Marines Awarded the Medal of Honor.

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.